Can you present your book idea in one sentence?
Can you present that idea in such a way that the reader is compelled to buy your book?
What motivates someone to spend money on a book? It is the promise that there is something of benefit to me, the reader.
Books are generally purchased for one of three reasons:
If your book idea can make me want to read it, whether it is for entertainment, information, or inspiration, then you are well on your way to making a sale.
This isn’t only about your title (although your title is the quickest way to get someone’s attention); it is about your pitch. That 25-words-or-fewer sound bite that instantly conveys your message.
Create something that makes me, a cynical curmudgeon, say, “Now that is interesting.” (Which by the way will help sway the grumpy, “I’ve seen it all” person in the sales or marketing department at a publishing company.)
Your pitch becomes your editor’s pitch,
which becomes your publisher’s pitch,
which becomes your retailer’s pitch,
And the consumer’s buy-it pitch,
which becomes the word-of-mouth pitch.
Did the picture at the top of the post get your attention? Did it make you smile? Did it make you want a taco? If so, it was the perfect pitch.
[An earlier version of this post ran in October 2011.]